Wealth affects health. How much money you have and whether you have enough money to pay your bills — these factors are closely tied to your overall health and well-being.
“We know that the stress that comes with having to stretch every dollar can lead to health issues. And not having enough money to secure safe and stable housing or healthy food also has a negative effect on health," said Bechara Choucair, MD, senior vice president and chief health officer at Kaiser Permanente. “At Kaiser Permanente, we believe we have a role in addressing these critical issues with our members and communities.”
To help people with low incomes gain financial stability and security over the long term, Kaiser Permanente recently provided a $2.5 million grant to Change Machine, an organization that helps build financial security for people in low-income communities. With the grant money, Change Machine will provide its financial coaching platform and training to 190 local social service organizations. Those organizations will then use the platform to help people and families manage financial matters such as loans and debt, taxes, budgeting, saving, and credit building.
“When people have needs around housing, food, employment, or transportation, it’s guaranteed that financial obstacles are also present,” said Mae Watson Grote, founder and CEO of Change Machine. “We want to make sure that our partners working to meet these immediate needs are also trained and equipped to help their clients get out of debt, build their credit, and plan for the future.”
The social service organizations receiving the Change Machine technology are located in all the areas in which we operate: California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Oregon, Virginia, and Washington.
One of the organizations is Workforce Snohomish in Everett, Washington. Workforce Snohomish helps recent immigrants get the training and credentials they need to work in their career fields in the United States.
“We regularly help people apply for financial aid and other types of funding,” said Jared Schapiro, assistant director of professional services at Workforce Snohomish. “With the Change Machine technology, we can help our clients figure out the best way to get money to support their education or start a business. We can show how long it will take to pay off loans based on what they expect to make and talk through all of the factors that could help or hurt them financially.”
The organization also helps people address what Schapiro calls “benefit cliffs.” These occur when government benefits are lowered or stopped as a person earns more money. Schapiro’s team helps clients plan for a future with fewer surprises about money.
“Financial education and empowerment have been a gap in our community for a long time,” said Schapiro. “Our overall goal is to give folks a sense of ownership when it comes to managing their financial lives, helping them to set goals and plan for their futures.”
Everyone should have access to safe financial products and services that help with managing money to meet short- and long-term goals. Our initiative with Change Machine will help leading organizations in our communities provide financial education to up to 100,000 more people each year.
Learn more about how we’re building healthy communities.